Suicide on the Rise in Karen State after the Coup

Health experts have observed a rise in suicides and mental health problems in Karen State following the military coup.

According to family members of those who have tragically taken their own lives, the turmoil caused by the coup and the ongoing war, has inflicted damage to their homes, relatives, and overall family well-being. As a consequence, their mental health has deteriorated leading to an increase in depression that often leads to alcohol and drug abuse.

An anonymous health worker from Hpa-An township revealed that among the seven townships in Karen State, Kawkareik, Hpa-An, and Kyainseikgyi townships have witnessed a higher incidence of suicides compared to others. Additionally, hospitals across various townships are witnessing a daily influx of visitors seeking help for depression.

“People visit clinics for depression, addiction, and other conditions. The risk of suicide is heightened among those who live in isolation, with tragic cases arising across various locations. An online system is in place to offer communication and comfort to individuals battling depression, alongside the presence of mental health education groups. However, it remains crucial to expand these resources further to reach a wider audience,” said a health worker from Hpa-An Township.

In Karen State, individuals residing in environments characterized by alcohol and drug abuse, and military conflicts, are more prone to suicides. Health experts emphasize the importance of promptly reaching out to the appropriate mental health services, if symptoms of depression are observed in their neighbourhood, and they urge to take signs seriously.

“This year three individuals in the village have tragically died by hanging. The area has experienced frequent conflicts, resulting in a scarcity of job opportunities. As a consequence, some have lost their homes and families, leading them to turn to drugs for solace. This sudden shift in their social lives becomes unbearable, and unfortunately many resort to suicide .”a village administrator in the Winyaw area of Kyainseikgyi Township told KIC.

A significant number of suicide cases in Karen State involve the use of weedkiller or poison solutions, hanging, and firearm incidents, as reported by individuals close to the victims. It appears that this trend is more prevalent among young and middle-aged men.

The family members of the deceased have expressed that, as a result of the political situation, young individuals in Karen State tend to perceive themselves as isolated and alone, leading them to resort to suicide as they struggle with changes in their social lives.

Health workers and social aid workers estimate that between 2022 and 2023, over 20 individuals will likely take their own lives across the seven townships in Karen State.

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